“The world has gone mad!”
A refrain oft heard and – I confess – deployed by yours truly over the years. Context? Usually as a verbal line being drawn under a comment (so the conversation can continue). Perhaps accompanied by a smiling, out-loud-eye-roll – as if to concur – with a subtext of “but what’s to be done eh?” Served with a dash of “shall we move on?” Maybe with a good humoured “c’est la vie” adjunct before we proceed vibe.
Only the context has shifted. I’ve started to use it more literally. In doing so am noticing if you use it frequently it sort of devalues. Moreover, overuse sees a loss of potency: no longer does it serve as a deathly serious query to the lurking danger in the collective state of mind.
Perhaps I’ve been asleep at the wheel? Perhaps it’s auld age? Cynicism? World weariness? Perhaps the world was only dicking around previously, but now…
Now the world really has got its shizzle together, howled at the moon, put its underpants on its head and gone completely, certifiably, bat-shit crazy.
I am – of course, what other subject is there – referring to ________________________*.
[*Fill in the blank as appropriate.]
Well, go on.
Fill in the blank.
You see part of the lunacy is that there are legion topics to choose from. Watching the BBC 10 o’clock news on 2nd March 2020 with teenage offspring was so very depressing. Handsome Huw anchored with gravitas a collection of stories that had us physically go out to the garden and check that the sky had not fallen in.
(It hadn’t BTW.)
Here are some ballpark suggestions to get you going on filling in the blank:
Trump Boris Brexit Patel Erdogan Putin Bloomberg Weinstein Musk Bezos. Hackers Virus Big-Data ID-theft Blackout Amazon Google Big-Brother AI Bots Immigration Migration Hunger Poverty Genital-mutilation Oppression Identity-politics Trans-rights Gender-Fluidity Non-binary Misogyny #MeToo EU Russia China Syrian Yemen USofA Hungary Turkey India
And in the last few weeks? Covid19 aka Coronavirus.
The latter is baking my noodles on a daily basis as organisations procrastinate then react – over-react IMHO – by adoption of blanket/draconian/absolute/binary plans regarding “travel”. The quotation marks are for the implications that the term brings. International transit, visiting offices, gatherings of groups of people, going to work, going to the shops.
These “isolate and travel not” policies are as leaky as the respirator (face) masks that are being mis-worn across the globe: they are symbolic rather than effective.
Perhaps I will be eating humble pie in the coming weeks. (Alone, in an isolation unit, served through a air-lock-slot by a hazmat suit wearing goon who mutters “@r$h0le” through his respirator.) Yet at this early (?) stage in proceedings 1) the containment horse has already well and truly bolted, 2) the illness appears less aggressive/harmful/hazardous than the level of reaction suggests and 3) governmental advice/guidelines massively inept. Corporations are knee-jerking with absolutist policy decisions: nobody move! It seems common sense has deserted us. Sadly, the following photo of the Pence-led US team praying for a resolution sums in up. (The gutter-language caption from Twitter is courtesy David Baddiel and nails it for me.)
Ordinarily, we might say “nothing to see here, go back to your lives” only this outbreak is going to ruin lives through economics, not disease. An albeit imperfect parallel here is the San Francisco earthquake of 2006 . Where the 15 seconds of shakes were tragic, the [ahem] after-shock was in some ways more damaging. Namely: many of the businesses that went bust were not earthquake damaged but cash-flow starved as they were unable to trade during the aftermath. People died that day and lives were wrecked long after.
We appear not to have learned from past calamities.
“The world has gone mad.”
For want of a better term.